The 2014 NBA Draft was a mixed bag. The draft itself possessed many talented players. However, amongst this group were players who appeared promising on paper, yet never materialized into what was expected. This draft was limited on true superstars yet had good role players vital to building a winning team.
*All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference
No. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers select Nikola Jokic
Actual Selection: Andrew Wiggins
Since entering the league out of Europe, Nikola Jokic has transformed the Denver Nuggets franchise. Averaging 20.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists over his last two years (both All-Star seasons), Jokic has established himself as one of the best big men in the league. He struggles to guard the pick and roll but is solid defensively overall. Jokic could have turned around the trainwreck that is the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.
No. 2: The Milwaukee Bucks select Joel Embiid
Actual Selection: Jabari Parker
Joel Embiid is a three-time All-Star, averaging 24.8 points and 12.2 rebounds throughout his three All-Star seasons. He has excellent post moves and plays with surprising agility for a man of his size. The wild card is his injury history. Embiid did not play in his first two seasons due to a lingering foot injury from his college career. He has never played over 65 games in a regular season and has missed meaningful time in the Playoffs as well. For this reason, Jokic gets the nod over Embiid.
No. 3: The Philadelphia 76ers select Zach Lavine
Actual Selection: Joel Embiid
With Embiid no longer available for the Sixers, Philly opts for a talented guard in Zach LaVine. LaVine struggled in his first few years after initially being drafted by Minnesota, but after joining Chicago his career has accelerated. He has averaged 24.6 points per game on 37.8% shooting from 3 during his two years in Chicago. Lavine might have actually been a smarter choice for the Sixers. While Embiid is inherently more talented, it is well-documented that he and Simmons cannot win together due to play styles. Lavien and Simmons could have been a deadly guard duo,
No. 4: The Orlando Magic select Marcus Smart
Actual Selection: Aaron Gordon
Initially, you may not think Marcus Smart would warrant a top-5 pick. He has the stats of a role player and defers to others offensively. However, in today’s NBA filled with dominant offensive threats, Smart is a player you want on your team. The man is a defensive monster. He has finished top 20 in the NBA for total steals three times in his career and finished first in steal percentage in 2018-19 with 3.1. While only being 6’3, he is 227 pounds, giving him the mass to hang with some of the more physical players in the league. Smart has even refined his three-point stroke, shooting 35% over the past two seasons.
No. 5: The Utah Jazz select Andrew Wiggins
Actual Selection: Dante Exum
Andrew Wiggins is a guard-forward hybrid with elite defensive upside. He has had efficiency woes from the arc but can score in a variety of ways. The Jazz already have a similar player to Wiggins in Royce O’Neal, who plays comparable defense and shoots better from 3. However, Wiggins is more athletic and has the potential to develop into a multi-level scorer.
No. 6: The Boston Celtics select Gary Harris
Actual Selection: Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart was a perfect fit for Boston, but Gary Harris is the best available player in this draft. Harris is a slightly more effective three point shooter than Smart, and he is a reliable defender as well. He finished 6th in steals per game in the 2017-18 season. This year, he is first among all eligible shooting guards in defensive real plus minus. The Celtics would still appreciate Harris, as he could hold his own on the defensive end while scoring effectively on the other.
No. 7: The Los Angeles Lakers select Bogdan Bogdanovic
Actual Selection: Julius Randle
Bogdan Bogdanovic has carved out a role for himself in the NBA, and he is excelling in it. Bogdanovic is a productive scorer off the bench, as well as a decent defender. He averaged 14.5 points per game this year while knocking down the long ball at a 36% clip. With LeBron in the picture for the Lakers, Bogdanovic is the perfect bench scorer to complement the roster.
No. 8: The Sacramento Kings select Clint Capela
Actual Selection: Nik Stauskas
Clint Capela hit his stride during the 2017-18 season, finishing first in field goal percentage, 2nd in blocks per game, and 4th in defensive rating. He is a constant lob threat, as demonstrated during his time with James Harden in Houston. The Kings find their next franchise center in the post-Demarcus Cousins era.
No. 9: The Charlotte Hornets select Aaron Gordon
Actual Selection: Noah Vonleh
Aaron Gordon is a relatively good scorer with freakish athleticism. He currently lacks an outside shot, but he makes up for that with his finishing at the rim. Still only 24 years old, Gordan has the potential to develop into an All-Star. This selection could have helped Charlotte to an extreme degree. If Kemba Walker had been paired up with Gordon, he might never have left the Hornets Franchise.
No. 10: The Philadelphia 76ers select Spencer Dinwiddie
Actual Selection: Elfrid Payton
With the Sixers’ second pick in the top 10, they go with backup PG to Ben Simmons. Dinwiddie has established himself as a top-5 backup point guard in the league since joining the Nets. He is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and is a capable scorer. Before the termination of the season, Dinwiddie was averaging 20 points per game, along with 7 assists. He would be a talented addition to the bench unit in Philadelphia.